Helmholtz Enterprise

Helmholtz Enterprise is a Helmholtz Association initiative to support spin-offs from its Centres. Setting up a successful spin-off requires careful planning and preparation. It is particularly important that spin-offs are set up in conditions which allow them to grow. Other significant factors include clarifying intellectual property rights and agreeing a solid distribution strategy; in some cases, management and marketing experience is also needed.

Helmholtz Enterprise funding aims to provide support in an area critical to the success of almost every spin-off - the staffing situation in Helmholtz Centre institutes and management expertise. In concrete terms, Helmholtz Enterprise provides financial support, which the institutes can use to pay for extra staff while the spin-off is being set up and to cover the costs of external management support. The funding allows potential company founders to strategically develop their spin-off to position it successfully on the market with the help of external (interim) management.

The funding can cover up to 36 person-months of personnel costs and pay for various other kinds of support, such as consulting for the business plan, the patent, and market research or training in distribution and market entry strategies. This support helps entrepreneurs to draw up strong business plans, optimise their business models and keep their eye out for strategic partners. Since 2013, Helmholtz Enterprise has also provided funding for external management support (HEFplus), which was previously financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. This provides a considerable boost to the new company’s management expertise, and therefore markedly improve its chances of success in the market.

Total funding from the Helmholtz Association’s Initiative and Networking Fund amounts to up to €130,000, of which a maximum of €100,000 is allocated to classic Helmholtz Enterprise funding (HE classic) and a maximum of €30,000 to external management support (HE plus). It is possible to apply for a combination of the two funding instruments (HE complete) or to apply for them individually. The relevant Helmholtz Centre co-finances at least half of the funding. The funding is available for one year. Helmholtz Enterprise funding is allocated via a competition. Scientists planning to start up a spin-off can apply via the technology transfer point at their Helmholtz Centre. The applications are assessed by external experts and, after a presentation by the team behind the spin-off project, they decide whether the venture should be put forward for funding.

The programme funded 89 projects between 2005 and 2014, and so far has helped to set up 60 new businesses. This funding programme for spin-offs has been well received and in the last three years Helmholtz Enterprise helped to finance 18 out of 47 Helmholtz spin-offs.

Call to tender

The call to tender for the Helmholtz Enterprise funding programme (in German)

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